Stop the presses! Newsflash: The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in the majors right now.
No, this is not April Fools’ Day. The world as we know it has not come to an end. But, yes, the Dodgers are tearing it up like they haven’t done the previous 138 games of the season.
In case you haven’t been paying attention or have been too busy drafting your fantasy football team, the Dodgers have won 9 of 10 games to climb within sniffing distance of a .500 record. Included in those nine wins are series sweeps of the Cardinals and Padres.
However, before I get ahead of myself, let me wipe a thought from your minds: The Dodgers are not going to make the playoffs this season. I know there are some of you silly Dodgers fans out there who might have actually been toying with the idea of our boys in blue making a record-setting run to catch the Diamondbacks.
Arizona was 11.5 games ahead of the Dodgers as of Sept. 2. There are 24 games left in the season, so for the Dodgers to catch the Diamondbacks … well, let’s just say it ain’t happening. Even if the Dodgers went 20-4 the rest of the way, Arizona would have to go 8-16 in that stretch … which, in itself, is a stretch!
I think it’s time to celebrate something, though. So, in a season that has been way more bad than good, let’s raise our glasses to a respectable baseball team in Los Angeles!
Why are the Dodgers finally playing good baseball? You can point to a lot of things … Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, a hot bat from James Loney, a steady bullpen, etc. The main area in which the Dodgers have improved, though, is starting pitching.
In these past nine wins, the Dodgers’ starting pitchers have given up three or fewer earned runs eight times. In six of the nine wins, the starters have allowed two or fewer earned runs.
Consistency from top to bottom has been the key for the starting pitchers in the recent hot streak. Kershaw has managed two wins in that time, which is predictable in his amazing season (17-5 with a 2.45 ERA).
However, Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda also have picked up two wins each in the stretch. Lilly has been electric recently, allowing one earned run against the Cardinals and two against the Padres. Throw in a stellar performance from “rookie” call-up Dana Eveland on Sept. 1, and the Dodgers have been lights-out on the mound.
In a lost season that has been filled with strife, another impressive stat jumps out about the 2011 starting pitching for the Dodgers. The combined ERA of the starting pitchers for the Dodgers is a very respectable 3.52 (not counting Eveland and his one start). There are a whole bunch of teams that would take a starting staff ERA of 3.52 in a New York minute.
I think this bodes well for our team next year and beyond. Kershaw and Billingsley still are young bucks with their best years ahead of them. The Dodgers also have promising rookies such as Rubby De La Rosa, Nathan Eovaldi and Eveland to bolster the future rotation.
Thank you, Dodgers, for finally allowing me the luxury of checking out the box scores from games without having to black out everyone’s stats except for Kemp and Kershaw. I can now watch MLB Network without having to hit the mute button when the Dodgers highlights come on.